Sure, I support responsible mining – we all do. However, who gets to decide what that is? A few days ago I watched a local TV program about Nevada Mining. They presented various viewpoints, including environmentalists who oppose mining. One guy who has been involved in local politics here in Northern Nevada for decades declared that there was no need whatsoever for gold mining – that we already had enough gold and all gold mining was an unnecessary degradation of the environment. He said that on the TV. So in his book, all of our gold mining is unnecessary destruction of the environment, not a bit of it is reasonable mining. Of course that’s not a unanimous view, but lots of folks would agree with him – far more than we care to admit.
The artisanal miners mentioned in the article use picks and shovels, but the article makes them sound bad, and irresponsible. We use picks and shovels, we think our prospecting is responsible and has little or no impact. Yes, they use mercury in these remote villages and really in this day and age, there is no reason for it. The old time miners here used tons of mercury because it was so cheap – far more than these modern small scale miners - and most of that old time mercury eventually made it into the environment. There were many hundreds of hydraulic mines in the California mother lode, nearly all of which used mercury in large amounts. The Mother lode had many hundreds of lode mines and all the mills used mercury – dumping tons into the streams in their tailings. So as a result, today we see the Sierra foothills are barren moonscapes devoid of all life – with no plants and no animals – the mercury has killed everything. And every kid who once swam in those waters or eaten any fish from them is mentally retarded and unable to think – but wait - that is totally wrong. You guys who have been there know that what I have just said is not true at all. The reality is that in spite of all that mercury, the Sierra Nevada forests are lush and beautiful, they teem with wildlife and the waters are fine. Even the fish only have tiny traces of mercury, and they swim in those waters their whole lives.
So “responsible” mining is a viewpoint. We think we are responsible. The old time miners, who really did do some notable damage, thought they were acting in a responsible manner too. The artisanal miners think they are reasonable and responsible too. Who is to say they are not? Many Greenies and progressives think all mining is evil destruction of the environment. From the greenie viewpoint, you guys in construction are in the business of destroying animal habitat to allow rich humans to live in cushy homes built by wrecking the environment at the construction site and in other locations too.
So when you read an article like this, think about the viewpoint of the author. Look at what they are trying to feed you. Be skeptical and think for yourself. Clear cutting for farming destroys 100 times more land in the Amazon basin than mining does. Don’t drink the greenie Kool Aid.